Alvaro Recoba’s first Serie A season perfectly summarized the future career of a player whose talent was equaled only by his indolence. El Chino tallied just three goals that year, but the one he scored to Empoli on January 25th, 1998 – a deadly left-foot lob from his midfield line (!) – instantly gained a spot into Inter’s hall of fame.
On this day, 30 years ago, the history of football changed. Arrigo Sacchi’s Milan trampled Steaua Bucuresti 4-0 with braces by Ruud Gullit and Marco Van Basten to conquer the European Cup 1988-89, the third in the history of the Rossoneri. The triumph in Barcelona marked the International legitimization of the Romagna-born coach’s football verbo.
In a month of May that is reshaping the geography of Serie A, Juventus decided to part ways with Massimiliano Allegri. The separation between the league title holders and their winning coach was made official yesterday in a sober press conference. Allegri leaves Juventus after five years in which he won five Scudetto, four Coppa Italia, and two Supercups.
They called him Capitan Futuro (“Captain Future”), as Daniele De Rossi was meant to be Roma’s new captain after Francesco Totti’s retirement. But he ended up wearing the Giallorossi captain band for two years only, as the club’s board communicated today their decision not to renew the 35-year-old midfielder’s contract for the next season.
The 2005-2006 season was the last for Zlatan Ibrahimovic with Juventus. Ibra had moved to the Bianconeri one year earlier, and even if his second season in Turin was far less impressive than the debut one, he still found the way to show dazzling glimpses of his talent – like the magic trick that helped Juventus trample Roma 4-1.
All is fair in love, war, and the Derby of Turin. In what became known as the derby of “Maspero’s hole,” not only did Torino midfielder Riccardo Maspero grab a late equaliser to set the score to 3-3, but he also prevented Juventus from snatching a late win by sabotaging the penalty kick spot and causing Marcelo Salas to miss his shot.
Records are set to be broken, even the oldest ones. In the last round of the 2015-16 Serie A season, Gonzalo Higuain of Napoli delivered a hat-trick to poor Frosinone to bring his seasonal tally to an astonishing 36 goals – one more than the legendary Gunnar Nordahl, setting a new Italian record for the most goals scored in a single season.
On November 11, 1995, Parma received Fabio Capello’s Milan, an invincible armada which had won three Scudetto in the previous four years. The Ducali’s starting goalkeeper was injured, but rather than resorting to his second in command, coach Nevio Scala decided to deploy an unknown 17-year-old boy. That’s how the legend of Gianluigi Buffon was born.
Juventus’ Champions League Curse continues. The Bianconeri ended their run in the elite European competition once again in the Quarter Finals, demolished by a magnificent Ajax. Coach Erik ten Hag’s squad raided the Allianz Stadium, snatched an epic 2-1 win, and progressed 3-2 on aggregate to show their face among the Top Four after 22 years.
Fabio Quagliarella was in his athletic prime when in 2009 he signed a dream deal to play for his hometown club Napoli. But his honeymoon would last only one year, as the following summer he abruptly moved to Juventus. The reality behind his transfer would emerge only years later, when he could finally reveal that he had to leave Napoli due to a stalker.
Grabbing six points in the two initial games of their Euro 2020 Qualifiers should be put in the right perspective: Group J is far from being a difficult one. Still, Italy’s 6-0 win over Liechtenstein last night, embellished by a double by Fabio Quagliarella and a new goal by young talent Moise Kean, was enough to warm the hearts of Italian supporters.
Roberto Mancini’s young Azzurri are off to a good start on their way to Euro 2020. Italy beat Finland 2-0 in Udine last night to pass their first test to win back access to the football aristocracy. Goals by Niccolo’ Barella and Moise Kean, whose combined age is 38, showed that the Italian coach’s work to rejuvenate the Belpaese football movement is starting to bear fruit.